It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: Episode 7
Our couple’s rollercoaster of a relationship keeps progressing, with the ups starting to outnumber the downs. It’s the last thing our stubborn hero wanted, but at this point, he may not even know what he wants. For now, he’s just trusting his heart, no matter where that might lead.
EPISODE 7: “The cheerful dog”
After Kang-tae comforts Moon-young from her nightmare, Moon-young falls back asleep. He stays with her that night, and while dabbing her forehead with a towel, his fingers linger there, as if wanting to caress her face.
By morning, Kang-tae wakes up by Moon-young’s bedside to see that she’s watching him. He gets up to leave, saying he’ll be back with medicine, but she stops him. She states that she did nothing wrong yesterday — the patient Eun-ja kept insisting she was her mom, and all Moon-young did was correct her.
Kang-tae simply says, “Okay, I got it,” and heads back to his and Sang-tae’s room. Sang-tae is getting ready to leave for Jae-soo’s pizza place, which is perfect since Kang-tae needs to go downtown too. To Sang-tae’s confusion, Kang-tae smiles and says that he’s skipping work today.
At OK Hospital, the staff crowds around the computer, watching CCTV footage of Eun-ja fainting in front of Moon-young. The staff agrees that they should let Moon-young go, that she’s been nothing but trouble for them, but Director Oh wants to hear her out first. For now, he does think it’s best to put a pause on the literature classes.
On the bus downtown, Kang-tae tells Sang-tae that he should quit the pizza place, worried he might fall ill from being overworked. But Sang-tae says that Kang-tae is the one who’s overworked — he even whimpers in his sleep like a dog. Taken aback, Kang-tae says he feels fine.
“It’s because your heart is aching,” Sang-tae tells him. He quotes the book he’s reading (The Cheerful Dog by Moon-young): “‘Your body is honest. When you’re in physical pain, you cry. But the heart is a liar. It stays quiet even when it’s hurting. Then, when you’re asleep, you finally weep and whimper like a dog.’”
Kang-tae drops Sang-tae off at the pizza place, and Jae-soo nearlys attacks Kang-tae like a wife who’s been worried sick, haha. Their conversation is cut short, however, when Kang-tae gets a call from Sang-in.
Kang-tae relays what happened to Moon-young, making Sang-in start firing off questions. Rather than answer, Kang-tae tells him to call her and then hangs up so he can run into the pharmacy.
Back at the mansion, Moon-young is still lying in bed, thinking about when her mother would brush her hair. One time, Mom told Moon-young to never cut her long hair, as it resembled hers. And to Moon-young’s silence, Mom threw the brush and screamed for her to answer. Jeez.
Moon-young grabs a pair of scissors and positions them over her hair, but Mom’s voice, crying “Save me,” makes her hesitate. Sang-in arrives at the mansion, wanting to check on her, and he rushes up the stairs when he hears something break. He reaches the bedroom and sees that she’s broken her mirror.
“I want to cut it, but I can’t,” Moon-young says, her eyes stony. Sang-in gently asks what she’s talking about, and she replies, “My mom.” He suspects that being home has triggered her nightmares again and orders her to return to Seoul with him.
As he’s going through the room packing her stuff, she grabs a lamp and moves to hit him with it. But he easily stops it and reminds her that he knows her too well. He then drags her toward the stairs, and she holds onto the banister refusing to go. In the middle of their struggle, someone shouts, “What are you doing?”
Sang-in turns to see Kang-tae, giving Moon-young the opportunity to push Sang-in off balance. This leads us to an epic slo-mo of Sang-in falling and Kang-tae catching him, much like the first time they met. Sang-in is so flustered (LOL) that he can barely fight back as Kang-tae kicks him out.
Kang-tae hands Moon-young the fever reducer he bought her, but she just tosses it away and says that that kind of stuff doesn’t cool her down. With that, he offers to take her out for some fresh air instead.
The two drive into town, and already, Moon-young is returning to her normal self. For instance, Kang-tae asks where she wants to go, she says, “Motel”; he asks what she wants to eat, she says, “You.” He gives her a look that says Don’t make me turn this car around, so she agrees to behave.
They go out for some barbeque, and Moon-young mentions that no matter how much she eats she’s always hungry — probably because she’s an empty can. Kang-tae looks up at her, feeling guilty, and apologizes for calling her that. He jokes that she’s more of a thug (“kkangpae”) than an empty can (“kkangtong”).
She asks why he’s not eating, and he says he isn’t hungry. Curious, she then asks if he’s slept with anyone, and the poor guy does a spit take. She elaborates that he’s pretty apathetic, never going after his desires. But to him, he’s just suppressing; not everyone can go after what they want like she does.
With a smile, she plays with the thought of pulling out his safety pin, of seeing what would happen if he didn’t suppress himself.
Meanwhile, at the pizza place, Jae-soo is still in angry wifey mode. He’s complaining to Sang-tae that he dealt with so many chicken shops for Kang-tae’s sake, only for Kang-tae to leave him for some crazy woman.
Seung-jae comes in and interrupts, wanting to go over some work details with Sang-tae. But Sang-tae is too busy sketching to pay her any attention. When he gets up to leave, Seung-jae and Jae-soo see that the drawing is of a dog chasing a chicken. Hee.
Later, when night falls, Kang-tae and Moon-young take a stroll outside. Moon-young doesn’t like walking, though, and tells Kang-tae to carry her, making him blush. He whips out his phone, and she snatches it from him, wanting him to focus on her.
Kang-tae grabs for the phone, pulling Moon-young closer than he intended. She looks into his eyes and asks, “Are you holding me in your arms right now?” He jumps away from her, and this is, of course, right when Joo-ri calls his phone. Moon-young answers the call, and Joo-ri, surprised, says she wanted to check on Kang-tae since he didn’t show for work. Moon-young cheerfully states that Kang-tae wanted to be with her and then hangs up.
Moon-young beams at Kang-tae, delighted to learn that he skipped work to go on a date with her. But he tells her that this wasn’t a date. He reminds her that she’s said “Get lost” to him a number of times, including last night. But last night, he could tell she didn’t really want him to go. And, for once, he wanted to stay with her instead of run away — that’s all today was. Mhm…
After Joo-ri’s call with Moon-young, she heads straight to a convenience store to drink her sorrows away. Soon, when she’s pretty dang drunk, she crosses paths with Sang-in again. He’s shocked to see her, even more so to hear her slur about her unrequited love. (Pft, she says, “Why can’t it be me? I can be a bitch too.”)
Sang-in introduces himself, and Joo-ri recognizes him as Moon-young’s publisher. She proceeds to slap him, saying he should’ve stopped Moon-young from coming here. Sang-in then recognizes her from her voice, as the nurse who kept calling about Moon-young’s father.
On the drive home, Moon-young reveals to Kang-tae that her mother always appears in her nightmares and that she always feels terrible when she wakes up. But today, she says, she feels okay. He sees her tracing a smiley face on the window and smiles himself.
The next day, Director Oh calls Kang-tae into his office and asks if Moon-young is seeing anyone. Kang-tae doesn’t understand why he’s coming to him for this, and Director Oh flat-out says, “Because you live together.” Apparently, Director Oh caught the couple coming into work together the other day.
Director Oh also asks about the Eun-ja incident, and Kang-tae explains that Moon-young nearly mistook Eun-ja for her mother. Director Oh finds this interesting, as Moon-young’s actual mother went missing after writing her last book, only to be declared dead five years later. Though some believed she never died.
If Moon-young mistook someone for her mom, Director Oh guesses that Moon-young must miss her a lot. “What if she doesn’t miss her?” Kang-tae throws out. “What if she fears her?”
Later, Director Oh looks through his notes from Go Dae-hwan’s sessions. In one session, when asked about his wife, Dae-hwan described her as beautiful and as loving Moon-young “too much.” She used to sing Moon-young the song “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” Uhh… that’s the song the hospital’s ghost hums…
Kang-tae and some other staff check in on Eun-ja in the isolation room, having realized she’s ready to confront her past. She clutches her shawl and dives into her story:
Eun-ja’s daughter gave her the shawl for her birthday. But Eun-ja freaked out after seeing the astronomical price and ordered her daughter to take it back. They fought, with Eun-ja’s last words being “I don’t need an immature daughter like you!” And to her horror, her daughter ran off into the street and got hit by a car.
Eun-ja has tears streaming down her face as she concludes that she never would’ve said such harsh words if she knew her daughter was going to die. Hearing this, Kang-tae remembers the time his mom had been drunk and told him she gave birth to him so he could care for his brother.
After work, Kang-tae stops by his apartment building to have drinks with Jae-soo on the roof. And Kang-tae looks so down that Jae-soo abandons any anger he felt for him earlier.
Kang-tae lies on his back, looking up at the night sky, and asks, “Do you think my mom is sorry for the way she treated me? Do you think she regrets it?” Jae-soo asks if that would make him feel better. Kang-tae’s face crumples into tears, and he nods only to shake his head. Oh, sweetie.
Jae-soo gets up and yells at the sky, at Kang-tae’s mom, for treating him so badly, and Kang-tae laughs through his tears. Joo-ri’s mom comes up and joins them, and having heard Jae-soo, she asks Kang-tae to understand his mom. After all, she says, it couldn’t have been easy raising two boys, one of them autistic, alone.
Still, Kang-tae can’t stop crying as Joo-ri’s mom grabs a beer and makes a toast to the sky. Mom eventually heads back down to see Joo-ri, who’s still hungover from yesterday. Mom chides Joo-ri for coming home with some guy, and Joo-ri suddenly recalls slapping Sang-in and then Sang-in piggybacking her home.
Kang-tae gets home late and finds Moon-young waiting for him at the bottom of the staircase. Seeing that he’s drunk, she suggests they continue with their own drinking party. She starts joking that she might come on to him, and he surprises her by flicking her forehead. Heh, drunk Kang-tae is so silly.
He tells her to close her eyes, and assuming he’s trying to kiss her, she closes her eyes and puckers her lips. He then surprises her with a hand-made doll — a nightmare catcher he calls “Mang-tae.”
She thinks the doll is a little janky at first but melts when he explains that he made it for Sang-tae years ago. He reveals that Sang-tae’s been having nightmares ever since their mother passed away and that this was the only thing he could do to make it better. He wishes her a good night’s sleep and leaves for his room.
Kang-tae climbs into bed with Sang-tae, and he happily suggests they visit the jjambbong restaurant Sang-tae likes so much. Sang-tae says that Kang-tae is the one who likes that place, which is why their mom always took them there. Oh no, we’re about to enter a heartbreaking flashback, aren’t we?
Yup, we are. We see that Mom had gotten jjambbong for her boys without eating anything herself. And though Kang-tae was touched, he was immediately jealous because Mom started tending to Sang-tae.
Afterwards, the family left in the rain, Kang-tae again jealous that Mom was keeping Sang-tae under the umbrella. He hung back, letting himself get drenched, but then Mom turned and urged him to join them. He finally smiled and ran over to squeeze in between his mom and brother.
Then, we see a flashback to something Kang-tae doesn’t remember. The night Kang-tae held onto his mom, wanting to feel her warmth, he’d fallen asleep just as she turned to look at him. She smiled and hugged him, quietly saying, “My adorable son. Mom is so sorry.”
Kang-tae is overcome with emotion, crying into Sang-tae’s shoulder. He clutches onto him, saying, “I miss Mom.” But Sang-tae mishears him, being too tired, and murmurs that he wants jjambbong too. Meanwhile, in her room, Moon-young goes to sleep with Mang-tae in her hands and a smile on her face.
The next day, at OK, Moon-young sees the notice for the cancellation of her classes and storms inside to find Director Oh. A caregiver sees this and hurries to inform the others, Kang-tae included.
Outside in the garden, Director Oh is chatting with Eun-ja and urging her to take her recovery one step at a time. Director Oh sees Moon-young coming toward them, however, and totally books it outta there. Kang-tae reaches the garden just Moon-young and Eun-ja face each other…and Eun-ja apologizes.
Still, Moon-young would rather be compensated for her getting fired. She takes Eun-ja’s shawl and decides that that can be her compensation. Kang-tae starts to interject, but Eun-ja tells her to go ahead and keep it, that she’s had it “long enough.”
With that, Moon-young wraps the shawl around herself, thanks Eun-ja, and struts off. Eun-ja watches her, telling Kang-tae that her burden is finally gone.
Kang-tae heads back inside and finds Moon-young looking at Sang-tae’s mural. He mentions that Sang-tae has been interested in one of her books lately, and she reveals that she already knows — The Cheerful Dog.
We flash back to before, when Sang-tae read the book to Kang-tae on the bus.
“Once upon a time, there lived a dog that was very good at hiding his emotions. The dog was tied beneath a shady tree. He always wagged his tail and acted cute. So he got the name The Cheerful Dog because he was as cheerful as springtime… But every night, he’d whine when no one was around. Honestly, he wanted to cut off the leash and freely run around in the spring field. But he couldn’t, and that’s why he cried every night… One day, a voice inside him asked, ‘Why don’t you just cut off the leash and run away?’ And The Cheerful Dog said, ‘I’ve been tied up for way too long. So I forgot how to cut myself free.’”
Kang-tae reiterates that last line, smiling at Moon-young. He pats her on the head and tells her she did well; she helped Eun-ja cut herself free. Moon-young just looks at him and smiles back.
As Moon-young is leaving the hospital grounds, she sees her father and tries to walk past silently. But he stops her by speaking up: “You will end up like your mother. You won’t be able to escape.”
“No,” Moon-young firmly says. “I’m different.” With that, she walks past and goes back to her mansion. There, she picks up her scissors again, determined, and starts chopping off locks of her hair.
When Kang-tae comes home, Moon-young greets him with her new haircut. She beams and says that she cut off her leash… and then they burst out laughing, at the horrible state she left her hair in. Augh, this is so precious.
At OK, Go Dae-hwan hears the humming of “Oh My Darling, Clementine,” and he stumbles out of his room while screaming and covering his ears. We see the ghost — what is this? — roaming the dark halls.
Kang-tae tidies up Moon-young’s hair, and when she finally gets a look in the mirror, it’s like a weight is lifted off her shoulders. She turns to Kang-tae and asks how she looks, and he responds with, “Pretty.” She smiles at him, brighter than ever before, with tears in her eyes.
YES. YES, YES, YES. This is the content I’ve been asking for, the content of my dreams. There are little things that bother me (like Director Oh leaving Eun-ja to Moon-young’s wrath), but wow. I mean, the things the drama gets right, it gets it really right. I think the theme with The Cheerful Dog proves that. It brought out such a bittersweet moment between the brothers on the bus, and then it came back in the end to turn that bittersweetness into utter perfection. What this writer is doing with Moon-young’s stories, and the other fairy tales, is working so, so well.
Sadly, I don’t think Moon-young has permanently cut off her leash. I think cutting her hair is monumental, a huge step in her own personal healing, but I’m sure there will be many more steps she’ll have to take. With this latest flashback we’ve been given, of her mom warning her to never cut her hair, we’re seeing who the true monster is. The ghost we’ve been seeing in the hospital is creepy, but the mom in flashbacks is downright terrifying. Mom viewed Moon-young as her creation, as an object she could manipulate and edit however she wanted, just like her books. And, yes, that’s exactly how Moon-young treats people. Moon-young might’ve been born with a disorder, but ultimately, it was her mom that molded her into the person she is today. I agree with Moon-young, though, when she says that she’s different. There is good in her, and the mere fact that she wants to be different speaks volumes.
Moon-young isn’t the only one needing to get rid of her burden. Kang-tae is sure to deny it, but he’s tied by a leash as well: Sang-tae. I love the brothers (so much it hurts), but they’ve been tying each other down for years. And it’s not that they need to cut each other out of their lives; they need to cut their reliance on each other. It’s especially dangerous for Kang-tae, because he’s pretty much turning into his mother. Did anyone else notice that he did exactly what his mom used to do, giving the loved one the food instead of himself? It’s a sweet gesture but yet another sign that he’s failing to take care of himself. Once he sees the resemblance, maybe he’ll begin to understand why his mom was the way she was. Such a shame that he won’t be able to get any closure with her in person. That’s the thought that truly gutted me when he cried that he missed her. I don’t know if I can handle the truth of her murder, if that’s ever revealed.
As for this ghost business… I still don’t know what to think. The drama keeps hinting that Moon-young’s mother is actually alive, and I just don’t know how that’s possible. If that is what’s going on, then holy freaking shit. I don’t want Mom anywhere near Moon-young or Kang-tae or anyone else in this drama. My babies are finally showing signs of happiness! Speaking of which, how cute were they this episode? I don’t like that Kang-tae has to get drunk to be vulnerable, but he is showing more vulnerability when sober too. He and Moon-young seem comfortable around each other now, and it’s been such a natural trajectory. I don’t even think about the romance, necessarily, even though Moon-young constantly brings it up. I think of them as two broken people who are slowly feeling whole for the first time.
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